Long gone are the days of spammed keyword pages ranking first page slots on searches. Though many people continue this practice, Google has thankfully made that method obsolete as a way to rank. As hard as those pages are to read, they’re just as difficult to write. Who writes like that anyway? It takes a special kind of focus to cram 50 keyword repetitions into a 400-word article.
Today, the game has changed. Search engine optimization isn’t about slavishly finding new ways to add the same keyword or phrase into the page. Though keywords are still important, a lot has changed about how they work.
Finding The Right Keyword
First of all, start with something relevant to your article. Any main idea, no matter how saturated the keyword is, becomes your starting point. Once you have that, the process is simple: find a specific, targeted keyword to generate first page results. There are two simple ways to do this.
1. Use Google. Keep adding in variations of your keyword to be as specific as possible until you find a keyword with very few pages of results; the fewer the better. This involves some creativity, but once you get the hang of it the task actually becomes quite fun!
2. Use a keyword tool. There are many resources out there that will rate your keyword and sometimes even give you suggestions to narrow down the competition further.
Here is an example of how this process works:
Using creativity to narrow down ‘budgeting’ further, branch out into ‘budgeting on a fixed income,’ ‘how to successfully budget,’ ‘budgeting for large families,’ ‘budget your way out of debt,’ and so on. Using either method, keep honing the idea into a more specific keyword that has less than 10 million competitive results. When you’ve found the right keyword, it’s time for the fun part.
Writing Naturally For Rankings
Google likes natural writing. People like natural writing. It’s a win-win.
There are innumerable algorithms connecting different keywords in ways that make finding information easier for everyone. The more natural you write, the better your chances of capitalizing on those behind-the-scenes links to get ranked for even more keywords – without doing the work.
Instead of looking for the repeated keyword, Google now looks for related substance. For instance, if your article about budgeting starts talking about debt management, Google will link those words together on its own. So your page will start ranking under searches about ‘budgeting for debt management’ without any extra work on your part.
You can use this to your advantage. If your budgeting article is broad enough, it could rank under many different keywords. Be careful, though, because going too broad will reduce the effectiveness of your main keyword.
The Magic of Ranking
Once your article is written, there are other ways to boost your ranking. Social media involvement and sharing the article links helps quite a bit in the search results. The more active you are with social media, the more trusted your content becomes to search engines.
However, even without social media you can help increase your rank over time. The more often articles are added to your site, the better your ranking will be. As people begin to visit your site, your ranking will also increase.
It’s a vicious circle. Google monitors how many people click links to sites. The more visitors to your site, the more Google values your site. The more Google values your site, the better you rank. The better you rank, the more people see your site and click, which Google monitors. On and on, ad infinitum.
This means that getting page one ranking without spending money is a challenge. Yet it also means sites on the first page are more likely to be relevant to the search. To get the results, your site has to earn the position through continuous updates and providing quality content.
“Black Hat” Techniques
The idea of repeating the same word or phrase throughout an article is often considered a “black hat” technique. These techniques are basically doing anything–even if it violates the terms of service for Google–in order to increase page rank. While repetition may not necessarily fall under that category (although sometimes it does), there are penalties to be had from cramming keywords into your articles.
Though not as severe as being blacklisted, the punishment for repeated words and phrases means lower rank results. No, there is no one-size-fits-all formula for how many times something can be repeated before it starts affecting rank. If you’re writing as you would speak, it’s likely you won’t have to worry about this.
Starting out, it may not feel like the process is working. The tactics above take time to build up to being a first page authority on your given topic. This is especially true if you have a highly competitive industry (like the SEO industry, for instance). If you stick with it, the benefits will compound and have you ranking higher in no time!
Need help with your website? Not getting the traction you think you should? Contact Level343 for a consultation. We have over 20 years’ experience in helping clients succeed in their online goals.